February 4, 2022
With stories like “The ‘Tinder Swindler’ Might Just Scare You Off Dating Apps” and “The Ultimate Ozark Travel Guide,” Tudum — pronounced like Netflix‘s signature opening sound—reads like many digital lifestyle magazines, with a breezy voice and easily digestible fare.
But the site, launched in beta mode in December following a fan event of the same name in the fall, isn’t an online news outlet: It’s a Netflix marketing platform focused on the streaming service’s own shows and movies —as above, an upcoming true-con documentary and the Jason Bateman drama Ozark, respectively —that has hired a wide and sparkly array of former entertainment journalists, reports Business Insider.
The reporter-turns-publicist or reporter-turns-copywriter pipeline in Hollywood (and other industries) is hardly new, but Netflix has drawn curiosity for luring reporters and editors from seemingly enviable posts at established lifestyle sites and glossy magazines.
The high-profile hires began in 2019 with longtime Vanity Fair editor Krista Smith, whose tenure as a Netflix consultant evolved last spring into a position as director of editorial and publishing. She runs Queue, the streamer’s magazine geared toward Hollywood’s inside-the-industry, awards-focused crowd.
Graydon Carter, the founder of digital magazine Air Mail and previously the 25-year editor of Vanity Fair, told Insider he had read Netflix’s most recent issue of Queue
It’s propaganda in magazine form,” Carter said of Queue. “The oil companies used to do this sort of thing in the ’70s and ’80s: ‘Oil is good.'”
Carter said: “I looked through the magazine and I thought it was reasonably well done but it felt thin and expensive.” He added that it was no surprise that Netflix poached talented editors like his onetime employee Smith.
Netflix’s editorial spree ramped up last summer with Michelle Lee, the six-year editor-in-chief of Condé Nast’s Allure who was named Netflix VP of editorial and publishing, reporting to Chief Marketing Officer Bozoma Saint John. Lee now oversees Tudum, Queue, and Netflix’s social channels, among them, Strong Black Lead and Geeked.
Then there’s former Refinery29 Executive Editor Connie Wang, former The Wrap deputy editor Lawrence Yeev, and former Entertainment Weekly editor-in-chief Henry Goldblatt, who — after a decade at Time Inc. properties EW and People — served as VP of awards at Showtime for the past year before joining Netflix as an executive editor in January.
Netflx is still in hiring mode: The company has listed jobs for a Tudum content researcher, and editorial and publishing managers for Netflix Film, Geeked, and Strong Black Lead.
The streamer’s marketing editorial strategy also now extends to the kids and family space: Netflix Jr. magazine launched on Tuesday, February 1, promising preschool-aged children a “physical magazine your kids can hold in their hands — full of games, stories, activities — everything you need to share in the fun of your child’s favorite Netflix characters.” Netflix, Jr., like Queue, is a print publication. (Tudum is solely online.)
With starting pay of $50 an hour and 40-hour-a-week schedules, the Tudum writers who spoke to Insider generally expressed satisfaction with the gig.
“It boils down to money,” said one writer. “Journalism is struggling, and a lot of us are tired, and they keep cutting staff jobs and budgets; and [we’re] doing more and more and more, and being held to metrics that keep changing. And [if Netflix says], ‘We’re going to pay you a more-than-livable wage and let you continue to write about the things that you write,’ honestly, why wouldn’t you want to do that?”
Research contact: @BusinessInsider